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Unsecured heavy objects and children

Summary

Two boys aged seven and eleven were sweeping up straw in a barn when a metal fencing panel fell onto the seven year old fracturing his skull. It is believed the injured boy knocked the panel against the barn wall with a broom which then fell on him fracturing his skull, piercing left temple and right ear and causing possible facial paralysis. The boys claimed they were not playing on the fencing. They were not under any form of direct or close supervision, but adults in the vicinity occasionally checked on them. A generic risk assessment had been carried out by a consultant but no formal arrangements had been implemented to address child safety on the farm.

Action

The active partner in the partnership was prosecuted under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 s3(1) for failing to conduct an undertaking in a manner which would not place a non-employees at risk. The partner was fined £3,333 (£5,000 reduced by 1/3 for entering an early plea) plus a contribution to the prosecution costs of £1,700.

Advice

Heavy objects such as fence panels, gates and tractor wheels are a well-known source of accidents to children on the farm. Some of the accidents have been fatal. Remember that children are more vulnerable to injury than adults. Farmers should prepare rules covering where children can go and what they can and cannot do on the farm. Regular safety checks should be made of all areas where children are allowed.

All gates, panels and wheels when not in use should be stored flat on the ground or else secured in an upright position.

2012-10-08